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Narcissist's Never-ending Vengeance (Redemption: A True Story)

Uploaded 9/17/2023, approx. 14 minute read

The following is a true story. Having been humiliated, narcissistically injured, shamed, challenged, criticized, in private or even worse, in public, the narcissist undergoes narcissistic injury or narcissistic mortification. And very often, but not always, but very often the narcissist becomes vindictive, vengeful.

He pursues his ostensible enemies to the very ends of the earth. He doesn't let go regardless of the cost to himself, to his loved ones, to his business, to his career, to his reputation, to innocent bystanders, to society at large. He just plows ahead blindly, blindfolded by his own need to restore his grandiosity, to salve and soothe his gaping wound, and to shame and humiliate those who have shamed and humiliated him or her.

The narcissist is self-destructive and self-defeating in the pursuit of his vendetta. His state of mind deteriorates regardless of any effort he makes. Therapy, friends, family, nothing works. The narcissist's state of mind deteriorates because he needs to invest inordinate amounts of time and effort in perpetuating and upholding the self-deception that he is godlike and about to inflict a just punishment on those who earned it richly and deserve it.

And yet this is counterfactual, of course. And defying reality takes a toll on the narcissist's mind.

He then begins to act out. He falls apart. He decompensates and he begins to make mistakes, catastrophic mistakes. He engages in conspiracies, criminal conspiracies, with others. He risks his wealth, his money, his family, his business, his career, his reputation. He will stop at nothing because the alternative is to endure a damaged grandiosity.

Grandiosity is the only thing that isolates him from the slings and arrows of a cruel world. Grandiosity is a cognitive distortion that shields the narcissist from the realization of his own evilness, inadequacy and worthiness.

And so he would do anything to preserve, buttress, enhance, amplify and reinstate his grandiosity or her grandiosity, of course.

And this is the topic of today's story.

The original title is "Redemption" and it is a true story about my paternal grandfather. My father's family of origin couldn't have been more different to my mother's and yet there were similarities.

And it is this discrepancy between the similar and the dissimilar that drove the psychodynamic of my early childhood.


Here is another autobiographical story, the latest addition to my short fiction playlist, which you're invited to visit. You will find short stories, movie reviews and cringy poetry. Mine.

This story is titled "Redemption". It is about anything but. It is a story of the patriarchy.

And so let's travel back in time.

My grandfather said on a divan, back stiff and eyes tight shot when the news arrived. At the age of 70, his body still preserved the womanizers, tensile, proud virility. He dyed his hair jet black. Original Moroccan music, wistful and lusty, the desert's guttural refrain poured forth from a patinated gramophone.

The yearning tarred his cheeks with bloodied brush, a capillary network that poured into his sockets.

Now facing him, distraught, my father was reciting gingerly the information about his little sister, confessing object failure as the clan's first born. His elder sister died in youth, but even had she survived, she wouldn't have qualified to supervise the brood due to her gender.

It was my father's role to oversee his younger siblings, especially the females.

Thus preserving the honor of the kinfolk.

Being a melancholy and guarded man, my father blamed them for conspiring against him. He envied them instead of loving them. He kept strict ledgers of help received and succor given.

He felt deprived, begrudging their successes. They drifted apart and my father turned into an unwelcome recluse visited only by my tyrannical grandfather.

On such occasions, my father was again a battered, chided, frightened child.

That particular day with manifest obsequiousness, my father served the patriarch with tea and homemade pastry arranged on brightly illustrated tin trays.

My grandpa muttered balefully as was his want and sank his dentures into the steamy door, not bothering to thank my father.

As dusk gave way tonight, my father fetched the grouser's embroidered slippers and gently placed his venous, chalky feet on a dilapidated stool.

My father wrapped his father's feet in a blanket and thus, should and will and scones, the old man fell asleep.

These loving gestures, my father's entire repertory, were taken by my grandpa as his dew, a pillar of the hierarchy that let him beat his todless son and send him in eerie pre-dawn hours to shoulder bursting wineskins.

This is the order of the world. One generation serves another and elder brothers rule their womenfolk. Whore, my grandpa sneered, his voice subdued, only his face conveyed, his crimson wrath.

My father nodded his assent and set opposed, sighing in weariness and resignation. Whose is it do we know, my grandpa probed at last.

My father snuffed the ornamental music and shrugged uncertainly. My grandpa rubbed his reddened eyelids and then slumped again.

We need to find him and arrange a wedding, he ruled.

My father winced, propelled by the incisive diction into the grimy alleys of his childhood. The wine tied and ebbing in the pilled containers, the origin of his recurrent nightmares, nocturnal shrieks, sweaty relief when nestled in my mother's arms, his brow soaked his heart in wild percussion.

Today is different abuya, my father mumbled using the Moroccan epithet.

My grandpa whipped him with a withering blower.

I will depart tomorrow, my father whispered, but I don't wish to talk to her. Don't do it, consented grandpa, his eyes still shut, waving a steady hand in the general direction of the dew-soaked music.

Just salvage our dignity and hers.

So the next day my father packed his crumbling cardboard suitcase, the one he used when he fled Morocco, a disillusioned adolescent. He neatly folded in its underwear and faded blue construction workers sleeveless garments. On top he placed a rusting razor and other necessaries.

I watched him from the porch, he waning, now a child-sized figure going to the Negev, the heartless desert, to restore, through a defiled sister, the family's blemished honor.

He stood there leaning on the shed, patiently awaiting the tade transport. The bus digested him with eager exhalation.

My father has been away for four days and three nights. The fine dust of distant places has settled in his stubble. He wiped his soles on the entrance rug, removed soiled clothes and gave them to my mother. He slipped into his tunic and his thongs, uttering in barely audible relief, and then sank into an armchair.

My mother served up scalding tea in dainty cups. He sifted absent-minded, dipping a sesame cracker in the minty liquid. Having reposed, he sighed and stretched his limbs.

He never said a word about the trip.

A few months passed before his sister called. She phoned during the day, attempting to avoid my father, who was at work.

My mother spoke to her, "Receiver in a braided hand like hot potato." "We were all invited to her forthcoming wedding," she said.

"She was to marry a northern elder man of means." "He will adopt the child," she added.

Still enamored with her elusive lover?

That was his sister, and she admitted, "It wasn't the hideous fear we made it out to be."

These days and nights? Too short. The days and nights of lust and passion in the Westland have yielded her a daughter, a flesh memento of her paramour. And, yes, she was still in love with him.

My mother listened, stone-faced. "We cannot come," she said, her voice aloof.

"My husband won't allow it. But we all wish her happiness in her new-found matrimony." In the very last second, as she was replacing the handset in its cradle, she whispered maybe to herself, "Take care of you and of the little one." She subsided on the stool next to the phone and scrutinised the black wall opposite her.

I busily pretended not to notice her tearful countenance.

When my father came back from his excruciating work on the scaffolds, my mother laid the table. They died silently, as usual.

When he finished, she cleared the dishes, placing them in lukewarm water.

"Your little sister called," she told him. "She is inviting us to her wedding up north. She is marrying a wealthy man rather older than herself. So Oswald and Answell, at least she won't be destitute."

None of my concern interjected my father gruffly, heavily rising from his chair.

The following day, he travelled south to meet my grandpa. He then proceeded to see his older brothers and his sisters.

That over, he returned, called in sick, and remained at home for weeks.

When his youngest sibling, my uncle, came to visit, my father embraced him warmly. He loved them all, but only this Benjamin reciprocated.

My father pampered him and listened attentively to his seafaring tales, echoes of distant places, among the glasses of scented arach, a powerful absinthe.

They munched on sour carrots dipped in oil.

At last, my father raised the subject. Retreating to our chambers, we left them there to thrash the matter out through the night. Their voices drifted, raised, and then restrained.

My father shrilly argued, but his brother counted, self-convinced. He packed and left in the early hours of the morning.

My father entered our room, defeated, and tucked us in unnecessarily. He turned off all the lights, a distended, dismal shadow, and surveyed us, his beefy shoulder propped against the doorframe.

My mother instructed us severely, "If daddy's youngest brother calls, do not answer.

Nor he, neither his wayward sister, are a part of our family anymore.

Your father excommunicated them forever and cursed their lineage. They have disgraced us. Now they are perfect strangers." I liked my uncle. He was boyish and outgoing. Hair long and smooth and often brushed and dried, his clothes the latest fashion from abroad. He was a sea man, his visits smelled of outlying cities and sinful women, thin clad in bustling ports. He carried stacks of foreign bills stashed in his socks and bought my mother foreign costly fragrances. She buried them among her lingerie until they all evaporated.

At the bottom of his magic chest lay booklets with titillating tales of sizzling sex and awesome drug lords. I waited for his visits with the impatience of an inmate. He was the idol of my budding willfulness and nascent freedom. I resented our forced estrangement.

And so began my mutiny. Lured by the siren songs of far flung lens, of sexual liberation, of equality, I traveled to my grandma's home, an uninvited guest.

My uncle, whose name now we could not pronounce, was there as well. We strolled the wind swept promenade of Beersheba, kicking some skeletal branches as we talked. He treated me as an adult.

Then it was time to return. My father, aware of my encounter, regarded it as treason, another broken link in the crumbling chain of his existence and his authority. To him, I was a co-conspirator. I shamed him publicly. He felt humiliated in his own abode. He didn't say a thing, but not long after he signed me over to the army as a miner.

My mother tremblingly cosigned and mutely pleaded with my father to recant. He wouldn't.

Immersed in hurt, he just imploded, blankly staring at the television screen. He took two leaping anxiously with every form ring, instructing us in panic to respond. He didn't want to talk to anyone, he promised.

When I enlisted in the army, he accompanied me to the draft board. Evading any contact, he occupied a tiny, torturous wooden stool. He didn't budge for hours and didn't say a word and didn't kiss me farewell, departing with a mere goodbye and a wave of his hand.

Dismissive.

I watched him from the bus's window as he receded, stooped into a public park. He collapsed onto a bench and waved away the pigeons that badgered him for breadcrumbs. Finally he let one near and kicked her with his shoe. So they all scattered.

I didn't visit home, not even on vacations. I found father substitutes, adopted other families as home.

At times I would remember him, a tiny, lonely figure on a garden bench surrounded by the birds.

One day, my service in the army nearly over, my mother called and said, "Your father wants you here."

At once I felt like burdened with premonitory sadness, with the belated anguish of this certain moment.

She told me that my uncle died in a shipwreck. His cousin was with him to the end, she said.

He clung on to a plank all night in the water, till dawn. He fought the waves and floated, and then they heard him mutter, "What's the point?" and saw him letting go and sinking under.

They say that he drowned, tranquil and composed.

I alighted from the belching bus before it reached my parents' abode, traversing accustomed pathways, touching childhood trees, pausing in front of the bordered cinema house, a fading poster knocking about its peeling side. A tissue and cloud of falling leaves and garfed it all.

The sea roared at a distance as if from memory. I knocked, my father opened.

We contemplated each other, vaguely familiar.

Alarming copulence and evil, hoary streaks. Time etched its brown ravines in sagging flesh, the skin of flayed protection.

My father spread his arms and hugged me. I cautiously accepted and dryly kissed his stubble.

He ushered me inside and set me by my brothers.

I greeted them in silence.

My father helped my mother serve refreshments, build all wounds and solid confitules.

We sulked in mounting discomfort.

Sighing, my father rose and climbed a spiral staircase to his room.

He soon returned, clad in his best attire, his synagogue and festive uniform, the suit he wore in my bar mitzvah.

Like birds after the storm, the house was filled with curled rabbis, flaunting their garb, grimly conferring with my father. They eyed the table critically.

"There's more," my mother hastened. "There's a lot more food after you're finished."

"Are these all your children?" the rabbis demanded.

My father, blushing, soon admitted that my sister wants no part in the impending ceremony. They nodded sympathetically. They linked their talliths, their prayer shawls, into a hupah, wedding canopy, and ordered us to squat beneath it.

They blessed the house, its inhabitants and its future, monotonously.

My father's face illuminated his eyes aglow. He handed each rabbi and each cantor a folded envelope from an overflowing pocket in his vest. He poured them arak to warm their hoarsely throats. They gulped the fiery libations, chanting their invocations as they swallowed.

With marked anticipation, they assumed the better seats around the table and plunged into my mother's dishes.

She waited on them differentially. Burping aloud, the food devoured, they broke into a vigorous recital of pious hymns.

"Night, friend," and my father entered the guest room and settled by my bed.

He drew the covers to my chin and straightened wrinkled corners.

"We bless the house," he said, to fend off a disaster.

I asked him what was he afraid of, and he told me that he cursed his brother to die young. And now that his brother did, my father was anxious.

"You love him very much," I said, and he averted his face.

Waves clashed with undulating ripples to deafening effect.

"There'll be a storm tonight."

My dad said finally.

I guess so, I agreed.

Good night, I'm bushed. I need to rise and shine early back to the army.

And I turned around to face the naked one.

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